Dahea Sun’s Cabbage-Dyed Dresses Change Color to Indicate Rain’s pH

Jun 29, 2012 by

ecouterre

by , 06/27/12

“Fashion has a direct link to the environment,” Sun tells Ecouterre. “My garments are pH indicators, which is hypersensitive for pH, by changing its colour as soon as it is rained on. I wanted to embody environmental attention and responsibility in a poetic collection that has fashionable and sophisticated details.”

Photos by Hee Woong Park

The last time we caught up with Dahea Sun, the Central Saint Martin’s textile student was developing a set of dyes that responded to acidity levels in rainwater. Using water-soluble pigments known as anthocyanins, commonly found in red cabbages, blackberries, and eggplant, Sun was able to use her “Rain Palette” to help people visualize air quality at a glance. In collaboration with Gayeon Lee, who’s pursuing a master’s degree in womenswear, Sun created a series of silk garments that combines artisanal techniques such as knitting, crochet, and embroidery with realtime environmental data.

 

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PURPLE RAIN

Although clean air regulations have significantly reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide over the past 30 years, acid rain remains a threat to public health. “Fashion has a direct link to the environment,” Sun tells Ecouterre. “My garments are pH indicators, which is hypersensitive for pH, by changing its colour as soon as it is rained on. I wanted to embody environmental attention and responsibility in a poetic collection that has fashionable and sophisticated details.”

Sun designed a smartphone app that allows people to scan and upload color changes to a cloud-based database.

The Korean-born, London-based designer believes that natural textiles can be a bellwether for sustainability by making science more approachable. Clothing begs to be touched, to be experienced. Because they encourage active participation, says Sun, the garments become an invaluable tool for driving public consciousness about environmental issues. “As [each] personal experience is different,” she says, “it also fosters closer relationship between fashion and its consumers in order to improve our environment.”

Since anyone who wears the Rain Palette collection becomes an instant pH monitor, Sun designed a smartphone app that allows people to scan and upload any color changes to a cloud-based database. Coupled with Global Positioning System technology, the app is able to map the crowd-sourced data to illustrate air-quality trends on a global scale.

“The more people participate in it, the more importance they retain in their conscience of environmental issues such as acid rain, air pollution, and global warming,” Sun says. “That is, this app may directly contribute to raising public awareness of sustainability.”

 

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